Snow Report: It's still looking good for some late Easter snow
Sunday 27 March 2011
Talk of climate change is no longer fashionable in winter sports. In any case, when you try to analyse one winter compared with any other, it's hard to say what is "normal".
Yet, as we enter the last month of winter 2011, it's possible to say that it has "generally" been a good year for snowfall across North America, and a fairly average one in the Alps. Closer to home, Scotland has had its third good winter in a row.
Meanwhile, April is looking promising on both sides of the Atlantic. Some heavy late-March snowfalls have pepped up cover to such an extent that it's now looking good right through to our very late Easter on 24 April, or even the Royal Wedding/May Day "four-day weekend" at the very end of the month.
What's more, there are some good deals around – though before you snap up a bargain, check your destination is high, with plenty of terrain above 2,000m. Good choices include Les 2 Alpes (les2alpes.com) or Tignes (tignes.net) in France.
In Switzerland try Zermatt (zermatt.ch) or Engelberg (engelberg.com) – which currently has about the deepest snow in the Alps at over 3m (10 feet).
Inghams' (0208 780 4447; inghams.co.uk) final holidays of the season depart 16 April and offer seven nights' catered accommodation at the four-star Chalet Mazot, from £459 per person (saving £356) with flights from Gatwick.
Many Austrian centres have low-lying ski slopes and close by mid-April. But there are exceptions. Obertauern (obertauern.com) is a high-altitude snow-pocket that stages a wild treasure hunt over the Easter weekend. Thirty treasure chests are buried in the snow, one holding the keys to a BMW car.
There are high Italian resorts, too, including Passo Tonale (adamelloski.com), where the glacier snow depth is now 4.5m (15 feet) according to skiinfo.co.uk, and is open to June. It remains to see if Scotland's Cairngorm (cairngormmountain.com) can stay open late again in 2011, just as it did in 2010, but so far the signs are looking good.
In North America most top resorts close by mid-April. This is because demand no longer justifies supply rather than a lack of snow cover. Several resorts will stay open into May, however.
In California, try Mammoth (mammothmountain.com) or Squaw Valley (squaw.com), and in Canada try Whistler (whistlerblackcomb.com) or Banff (skibig3.com). A recent study found average snow depth at the latter was 183cm in mid-March, that's 28cm more than in mid-February.
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